Strangely and sweetly, the deliberate patience bore a kind of grace to live life, and its apparent emptiness, a little better.
The other day, I ended up spending almost 11 hours in the car. I was trying to juggle a couple of visits during the summer, and I left two off until the end: a short meeting in Connecticut and a long weekend with my family in Pennsylvania. And so, setting out from Washington, D.C., I drove six and a half hours north only to double back and drive four hours south.
Being naturally impetuous (and somewhat impatient), I don’t typically do well in traffic. With my car hemmed in by an immovable aggregate of others, all seemingly neutral to (or slightly against) my progress, it feels like one big existential threat. Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic. Regardless, I don’t love waiting.
Knowing this about myself, I scheduled a handful of phone calls and a lengthy audiobook so as to allay my anxiety with the promise of efficiency. From 7 am onward, I zipped up I-95 and churned through a series of different tasks.
At a certain point though, my voice began to weaken and my brain began to bleed (figuratively speaking). As I navigated the Cross Bronx Expressway for the second time that day (at 5:30 pm), I took a few minutes for silence. Paradoxically, though my task-oriented approach had “saved” me from the gridlock without, it had stirred up a kind of traffic within. As I advanced from call to call, I had allowed certain questions posed by my experience to pile up.
So, I waited on the next call, pushed pause on the audiobook, and permitted the 10th hour of traffic to wash over me. The respite gave me a chance to just feel the day’s fatigued loneliness that had been lurking on the edges of my heart. Strangely and sweetly, the deliberate patience bore a kind of grace to live life, and its apparent emptiness, a little better. Even if only a little better.
For as every restless soul knows (with resignation), there is plenty more waiting before us. But in the midst of those jams, hemmed in my life’s difficulties, reality (and its author) break through at the point when we are most vulnerable. In the very midst of life’s traffic with its boredoms and frustrations, even as our our well-laid plans prove hollow and thin, yet he comes to quiet our hearts and to make it make sense. Even if only a little.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.